Tuesday 27th September to Saturday 1st October 2005
Produced by Nathan Chapman and members of Bench Theatre
Local playwrights get another opportunity to show off their talents with Bench Theatre's third festival celebrating new and original work by playwrights from Hampshire and West Sussex.
For Supernova 3, fourteen one-act plays cover a vast range of themes and styles, from dealing with the twilight years, mad-cap sci-fi comedy, and sexual politics, to revenge, homage and devised ensemble work. Intense drama and hilarious comedy feature side-by-side, providing something for everyone each evening, and all performed to the high standard that has become synonymous with one of the South's leading amateur companies.
Mum and Dad have retired and decided to reshape their lives when their daughter, Deborah, upsets their plans by returning home unannounced, having decided to leave her husband and children. Mum and Dad now have to decide how to deal with this unexpected situation.
I thought retirement would bring the chance to create a new lifestyle largely unconstrained by work or family obligations. But it seldom works out like that. Unexpected factors, as always, intervene to frustrate the best of plans and make us realise that the rainy day of the future is in fact always with us.
Lorraine, a launderette attendant, and Angela fantasise about Spain and the idyllic world of Angela's marriage. Alex, a homeless dosser, is always in the launderette scrounging money and food. When it becomes clear that Angela's marriage is less than idyllic, the two women plot to make things better. For everybody.
The inspiration for the play came from a launderette in Highland Road called "Bubbles". It's a mini world. A tea bar, a pool table, a TV area. Whenever I go in there it's full of an eclectic mix of people. Originally I wanted to make a film located in the launderette. Then I heard of Supernova!
A poignant snapshot of a chance encounter between lonely lives.
|Couple||Jeff Bone |
As befits a very short play, here is a very short programme note: the idea was prompted by a real incident. We were sitting in a pub in Brighton, and an amiable drunk wandered in. I shared a packet of crisps with him, and he left. Then other random strands joined in, and a small play was formed.
Matt really needs a job - he can't even afford to buy food for his cat. However it's the job interview from hell as his past returns to haunt him and it's not just an interview - it's WAR! A comedy for anyone who has ever had to justify their existence!
Life is traumatic at the best of times but some 'bits' of life are even more so. Moving house, having children and changing jobs are recognised as being some of the most stressful things that a person can be forced to suffer. So the idea was to take an already stressful situation, the Job Interview, and see what happens when absolutely nothing goes right.
And now for something completely different! Two totally original performances devised from stimulus material by John Flanagan, by two ensembles of actors. The only limits are the imagination...
|Performers||Zoë Chapman |
'Pidgin' has its origins in a series of workshops with students designed to explore the devising and writing techniques used by experimental theatre company Forced Entertainment in response to a multimedia installation by artist Erika Tan at the Aspex art gallery in 2002. We have taken the theme of communication and devised our own visual and textual responses.
|Performers||David Knight |
John Flanagan's stimuli seemed to have a common theme of communication running through them. This ensemble has focused on the function of signs, their ambiguity and reliance on a common interpretation in order to be understood. More ideas grew from the notion of barriers to communication. These "scenelets" are therefore about how human interaction is fraught with obstacles and possible misunderstandings. We hope you find them entertaining, and that you never look at a sign in the same way again!
An act of violence leaves a man forever altered. Now, driven by love and hate in equal measure he seeks a reckoning. But as the lines between justice and revenge are blurred, how far will he go to find his answers? How much blood will quench his rage?
This play was later staged at The Totton Drama Festival in 2009 as Bench Theatre's entry to the first round of The All England Theatre Festival that year.
I have contributed a number of comedies to this and previous Supernova events and thought the time was right to try something different. So one, wet, dark and horrible day I sat down at my computer with the intention of trying my hand at something serious and altogether darker. I did not stop typing until it was dark outside and I had created something just as dark. But once I started to tell the tale I felt compelled to finish it, as I hope you will be compelled to watch to the end and find out who is guilty and who is innocent.
The world's oldest profession becomes big business. As prostitution is legalised, a nervous first-timer decides to sample the no-longer-forbidden delights, only to discover that fears over litigation and health and safety have already taken their toll on the industry.
This play was later staged at The Totton Drama Festival in 2006 as Bench Theatre's entry to the first round of The All England Theatre Festival that year.
I tend to let ideas "brew" in my head for a while before I am able to commit them to paper. With Supernova 3 coming up, I knew I wanted to produce something for it, but I hadn't written anything for a while. The idea that had been brewing for about a year without going anywhere was something about the transaction between a prostitute and a customer. The simple question "What would happen if prostitution were legalised?" led to Customer Delight. It was fun to write, and a very good way to get back into the swing of writing. But I was sure the sketch wouldn't be selected because of some of the content. Imagine my surprise and trepidation when, not only was it accepted, but I found myself playing the part of the Customer!
Set in the 1980s when, to survive, businesses had to be bold and competitive. The buzz words were restructuring and downsizing. It was a time when employees needed to be flexible and able to move from job to job. Not everyone could cope...
|Young man||Chris Stoneham|
In the 1980s there were numerous items in newspapers about redundancy and the effect it had on individuals and on their families. These stories made an impression on me which did not go away... and so TIME TO GO was written.
Howard Davies died. But he got better. A thousand years in the future and earth is threatened with destruction. Howard Davies is the planet's only salvation. Unfortunately there were two men with that name and they've revived the wrong one. A comedy of cosmic proportions.
A political satire with comic references and echoes of cult-culture. Witness the rise of Rick Maelstrom from foppish, no-hope drop-out to megalomaniac leader-under the guidance of the enigmatic Mr Vandal. With the dastardly duo's plan on the verge of fruition, Britain's only hope is Politics undergraduate Marian Katz.
|Rick Maelstrom||Nick Hurd|
|Mr Vandal||Darryl Wakelin|
|Marian Katz||Jo Bone|
'Behind The Leader' was composed about six years ago for a college course. While themes of nationalist ideology and anti-racism provide a backdrop to the piece, the play's most significant influence is Marlowe's 'Dr Faustus' - the notion of the individual selling his soul to the devil for riches, power or some other Machiavellian service. Though the play was composed for the stage there are many film as well as cult-TV references - including a homage to the 'New Statesman', the Manga Anime 'Doomed Megalopolis' and an obvious nod to 'Pulp Fiction'.
Jack confesses to Martin, his brother, about his affair with Angela, Martin's wife-to-be. But how did Martin find out about it? And what happened? Was there an accident? And who was involved? When Margaret, Jack's wife, speaks of her relationship with Martin, things become clearer. Or do they?
I had this idea of a guy talking to his dead brother, apologising for the brief affair he had with his brother's girlfriend. Full of guilt and remorse. Reflections of when the brothers were young. One-dimensional. Then I thought of a slight twist.
An aging comedian lies dying, reflecting on his life and trying to write that last great film. A fantasy homage to a man called Stanley Jefferson, known to the world as Stan Laurel who, with his partner Ollie, proved there has to be laughter till the end.
|Directors||Mike Hickman |
Stanley Jefferson was a music hall comedian who went to America to try and get his big break in the movies. Eventually ending up to work for Hal Roach he became an accomplished writer, producer and director of short silent films, a "Gag Man" with an instinctive genius for comedy who while appearing in a number of films, somehow never ignited the imagination of the US in the same way that his old friend Charles Chaplin did. He was on the verge of quitting performing to concentrate on writing when an accident brought him into a film with "Babe" Hardy. When the two of them were on screen together, the public DID look and the public DID laugh and Jefferson became Laurel while "Babe" became Oliver and a comedy legend was born.
Mike Hickman and Mark Wakeman
A man and a woman wake up together with no memory of each other or themselves. In the search for clues as to their identities, a large sum of money on the bedside table and a message on the answer phone lead them to an unsavoury conclusion.
Two ideas for the price of one! The idea running through my head for several barren months not only gave me the premise for 'Customer Delight', but also for this play. They are very different pieces, with very different messages, and having warmed up with 'Customer Delight' I found 'Choice' a rewarding but challenging undertaking. Technically I am more pleased with this play than anything I've previously written, and I look forward to seeing how an audience responds to these characters and their situation.
These plays were staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977. Each play was performed once during the first four days of the festival, with the most popular plays (as judged by each evening's audience) being reprised on the Saturday as follows:
The Rainy Day
Pidgin Script 1
Pidgin Script 2
Father for Justice
Time To Go
The Big Freeze
Behind the Leader
The Funeral Parlour
|Festival Producer||Nathan Chapman|
|Tuesday Producers||Sharman Callam |
|Wednesday Producers||Peter Woodward |
|Thursday Producer||Mark Wakeman|
|Friday Producer||Alice Corrigan|
|Stage Manager||John Wilcox|
|Assistant Stage Managers |
|Members of Bench Theatre|
|Sound and Lighting Operators||Chris Stoneham |
|Sound Recordist||Darryl Wakelin|
|Poster Design||Nathan Chapman|
|Programme Design||Derek Callam|
|Press and Publicity||Sue Dawes |
|The voice of Supernova3||Glenda Penny|
|Front of House||Derek Callam|
Welcome to the third Supernova festival. Never did I suspect that, when I first suggested the idea of performing a few pieces by writers from the Bench over five years ago, we would keep on doing it. It just goes to show that some ideas are best kept to oneself!
It never ceases to fill me with amazement and pride to witness such diversity of work, and of such quality, all produced by local writers. To be able to fill a week's programme with such astonishing material not once, not twice, but three times is a testament to the writing talent on our doorstep.
Those of you who will have seen previous Supernova performances may well be familiar with the format of this evening: three or four different plays will be performed for you for the very first time in their existence. At the end of the evening, you are invited to let our front of house staff know your thoughts on each play, and indicate which you feel merits a second outing on the final night. Saturday will be a celebration of the work on offer over the previous four nights, and will hopefully represent a cross-section of styles and subject matter from the fourteen different works seen over the week.
Of course, if you are reading this programme on the Saturday, this process will already have taken place, and you are about to see the plays that the audiences have chosen. Whatever evening you attend (what do you mean you haven't been every night?), we have given much thought to providing as much variety as possible each time. I very much hope that you will see a real mix of theatrical styles and subjects, and that each play gives you something to think about, laugh at, react to or be surprised by.
What has been interesting this year is that we have a number of plays that might be considered "challenging." Several writers have chosen to experiment with a different style or method of working, or to tackle a sensitive subject in a courageous way, or to test the boundaries of content and accessibility. The ability of theatre to confront an audience, to challenge its views and question its ideas, as well as entertain is what keeps this art form alive, and to find it being done so readily by amateur writers is even more gratifying. There's comedy as well!
As always, the success of Supernova owes a large debt of gratitude to a great number of people, too numerous to list here. Every person mentioned in this programme has made an essential contribution to what is a very ambitious, somewhat risky undertaking for an amateur company. My thanks to you all.
Rehearsing and performing fourteen plays simultaneously is an enormous task for people who all have day jobs, but it is also a very positive experience, giving people opportunities to do, or see, something different. I am grateful to the membership of Bench Theatre for supporting wholeheartedly the principle behind Supernova.
Finally, thank you for coming and supporting local writers and performers. I hope you find the evening enjoyable and illuminating. Have a safe journey home.